February 26, 2016

Innovation contests open to students, public

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Saluki Entrepreneur Corps, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale registered student organization, is planning three special events to encourage creativity, imagination and entrepreneurship among students and the public. 

TakeSI, MakeSI and Dawg House are unique competitions that will take place in coming weeks on campus. TakeSI is for SIU students only but anyone can participate in the other two events. 

“We really want to motivate students and other people to think outside the box, to see what they can do with their creativity and innovativeness and a few readily available items,” Brandon Nolte, Saluki Entrepreneur Corps president, said. Nolte, a senior management major from Golden Eagle, is the founder and coordinator of the Spring 2016 Saluki Innovation Series, which incorporates the free competitions. 

TakeSI is a two-day film competition set for March 5-6. SIU students, in groups of up to four people, will create short films exclusively using their smartphones. Participants meet at the Dunn-Richmond Economic Development Center, 1740 Innovation Drive, Carbondale, at 9 a.m. on March 5. They can then film anywhere in the surrounding area and the edited and completed short films must be submitted and shown at Dunn-Richmond at 5 p.m. on March 6. The winning short will win $500 in prizes. 

Find all of the details and online registration information at www.takesi.salukiceo.com. 

Next up is the MakeSI design competition on April 2-3. From 9 a.m. Saturday until 9 p.m. Sunday, participants will collaborate with one another and mentors to conceptualize, design and create functional, or at least semi-functional, prototypes to address a specific provided challenge. All materials will be supplied.

Nolte said the contest was created with engineers, artists, designers and creative people of all kinds in mind and the goal is fostering innovation. Up to five people can join to participate and at the conclusion, will present what they have created. There will be a variety of event and category prizes as well as presentation bonuses, participation gifts, “swag bags” and snacks. Additional information and online registration are available at www.makesi.salukiceo.com 

“TakeSI and Make SI are really cool events that encourage people to learn to work with what they have. You don’t always need the latest, most expensive equipment and materials to accomplish something really remarkable. You just need to be creative, imaginative and innovative,” Nolte said. 

The final event of the 2016 series is Dawg House, coming to Dunn-Richmond at 6 p.m. on April 18. Participants have the chance to “pitch” their ideas for businesses or products to a panel of judges that includes successful local and regional entrepreneurs. 

“It’s actually our version of television’s ‘Shark Tank,’” Nolte said. 

Details are still being finalized for Dawg House but all of the information, including online registration, will be posted at www.dawghouse.salukiceo.com. 

While each of the events is free, pre-registration is required. A team of student entrepreneurs is working with Nolte to facilitate the three competitions. 

Sponsors include SIU’s Saluki Ventures, Center for Innovation and Saluki Entrepreneur Corps along with University Innovation Fellows. The theme of the innovation series is “Imagine. Innovate. Inspire.” 

Learn more about the sponsoring groups and events at www.researchpark.siu.edu, by calling 618/453-2083 or by emailing innovation@siu.edu